Vancouver has a large range of events happening this year for Christmas. I’m hoping to get out to more activities this year, now that Dean is a bit older (though having a newborn in tow might put some limitation to where and what we do)
Bright Nights in Stanley Park
We’ve gone to the light display at Stanley Park every year for the past four years, even before our first was born. It’s become a tradition to go, even though we have yet to take the train ride yet (I’m thinking next year will be our first time!)
“Partial proceeds from the sale of Bright Nights tickets go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families. $1.4 million has been raised over the past 16 years.” – Vancouver.ca website
Suggested donation to enter the Bright Nights light display is $4.00, train tickets are NOT required to go check out the lights.
The train is $6 for any age during the daytime – or – $11 for adults, $7 for children and seniors, with children under 3 years old being free in the evenings.
The matinee runs from 10am – 2:45pm, Friday to Sunday from November 27th until December 18th and then daily from December 19th until January 4th, excluding Christmas Day.
They are open from 3pm – 10pm every day from November 27th until December 18th and December 27th until January 4th. December 19th – 26th, they are open from 3pm – 11pm every day, excluding Christmas Day.
I’ve heard the train sells out early, so make sure to check availability and buy your tickets ahead of time! They have online purchasing options. But even if those are sold out and you’re really hoping for that date, head to the ticket booth in Stanley Park the morning of and buy your ticket on site – They reserve at least half of the available tickets for on site purchasing, but don’t leave it until late in the day, they still sell like hot-cakes even in person!
We haven’t had trouble finding parking in the past but you’ll want to arrive either before 5pm (when everyone is still having dinner before coming) or after 7pm (when parents of the little ones start heading out) The event is fairly transit friendly, though if bringing a little one in a stroller, it may be a wait as there are limits to the number of strollers on buses. There is also a free shuttle trolley that you can take from various points of the park to the event.
VanDusen Festival of Lights
It’s their 30 year anniversary this year!
Another favourite event. It’s very pretty and the lights are spectacular. However, the location and the parking can leave you feeling like the Grinch.
Admission is $15 (adults) $11 (senior and youth) $8 (children) and free for children under 3 years old.
They are open from 4:30pm-9pm from December 10th – 18th, December 24th and December 26th – January 4th. From 4:30pm-10pm from December 19th – 23rd.
They have quite a few exhibits throughout the gardens. There is a Dancing Light show (every 30m, alternating between modern and classic), a model train, Scandinavian Gnome performances, themed areas and many other exciting things to see and do.
It’s fairly stroller friendly, though with the crowds and everyone looking in the directions of the lights and not in front of them, it can be stressful. Most paths are paved. However, because it is a decently large area to cover by foot, smaller ones may benefit from being in the stroller or in a carrier so you don’t have to try carrying them in your arms for long periods.
The parking is a bit of a nightmare. It’s a highly residential area and finding somewhere you can park that isn’t next to a fire hydrant or blocking a driveway can be tricky! Transit is available in this area, but again, if you have a stroller, prepare to fold it up or wait for a bus or two until you can board.
The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain
Last year my husband surprised me with tickets to go to this event. We had an absolute blast. We will be skipping it this year as Sammy is just too little, but are planning on attending next year.
Admission is $39.95 for adults, $35.95 for seniors, $23.95 for youth, $13.95 for children and free for those under four years old. They also have a family rate for the Peak of Christmas which is $79.95 for two adults and two children/youth. Now, don’t quote me, but I believe that if you get the regular rate, it’s good year round so you can come back in the summer or even next Christmas if you get it late enough in the season. I believe that the family rate is only a one-time use for that visit, but you can get a family rate for a years pass as well, for approximately $105.
The Peak of Christmas runs from November 28rd to December 24th.
This price gets you access to the Skyride (don’t worry, they won’t make you do the grind to the top!) and events at the peak. There’s a sleigh ride, Santa’s Workshop, ice skating, Holly the Jolly Reindeer show and Gingerbread Lane.
We didn’t get to do the full experience as Dean was still a bit young (and was getting annoyed that he couldn’t walk as the Marshmallow Man in all his layers in the snow) but we enjoyed what we did get a chance to do.
There is also Breakfast with Santa from December 14th – December 24th. What better way to enjoy a family breakfast than having it with Santa at the top of a mountain? There are two seating times : 8:30-10am and 9-10:30am. For those without season passes for the gondola, it’s $49.95 (adults), $29.95 (youth), $19.95 (child) and $7.95 (tot) – I believe everyone needs a ticket, even infants. This gets you access to the breakfast AND the gondola AND all events at the top.
Robson Square Ice Skating
I’ve gone skating a few times here. It’s nice to go downtown for the day and be able to slip in some ice skating. However, it seems that everyone has that idea lately! The last time I went, years ago, it was stressful trying to avoid colliding into people or having a child skate into you and trying to not take them out as you fall over.
There must be a trick to when it’s a good time to visit. I, unfortunately, haven’t figured that out yet.
Admission is FREE. Yes, free. Zip. Zero. No money. — So long as you have your own skates. If you don’t, you can rent a pair for $4 (cash only)
The rink is open from Sunday to Thursday from 9am – 9pm and on Friday / Saturday from 9am – 11pm (with different hours on the holidays) from December 1st until February 28th.
It’s a short walk from the Granville Skytrain station. Or you can park in one of the many (pay) parking lots downtown.
Vancouver Christmas Market
I’ve gone twice and while it’s a lot of the same things as past years, it’s still enjoyable to go.
Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for youth/children and anyone 6 and under are free. You can save some cash by going on weekdays from 11am-2pm for a 2-f0r-1 rate (coupon needs to be printed and presented from the website)
There are some packages that include the souvenir mug, carousel rides etc for a better price than paying individually for those things.
It runs from November 22nd until December 24th from 11am – 9pm, seven days a week.
Most goods vendors do take credit or debit. However, many of the food vendors only accept cash. There is an ATM there if you need it, though it charges a fee to withdrawal money from it.
Burnaby Village – Heritage Christmas
I’ve gone to this a few times as a child. It’s a fun family outing and isn’t usually too crowded so it’s more enjoyable for the little ones that are just learning to walk and tend to get trampled at busier places!
Admission is FREE. Carousel rides are $2.50 each.
It’s open from November 22rd – December 12th from 1pm- 5:30pm on weekdays and 1pm-9pm on weekends. From December 13th – January 2rd from 1pm – 9pm (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
There are lots of lights to check out. They have some neat exhibits, including sound-reactive lights that will change according to noises that you make.
You can stroll through the streets and see the festively decorated village. For children there is a “Twelve Days of Christmas” scavenger hunt and the farmhouse has some wonderful baking.
There are various events (choirs, artists and theater groups etc) so check out the calendar on their website!
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
I’ve never gone to this event, but I’ve heard great reviews from those that have.
It’s from November 29th until January 3rd, but closed on Christmas Day. Park hours are from 11am – 9pm, with holiday events starting at 4pm.
The activities include gingerbread cookie decorating, children’s scavenger hunt, the worlds tallest Christmas tree and thousands of Christmas lights decorating the forest.
Rates are $32.95 (adults), $30.95 (seniors), $27.95 (students, with ID), $21.95 (youth), $12 (children) and free for anyone under six years old. BC Residents get a year long membership for the same cost as ONE visit but bring your ID with you to prove your residence.
Christmas at Canada Place
Last year this was held in the cruise ship terminal but due to construction, they are changing the location. I believe that most of the activities are the same, but the miniature train and the skating rink are not available this year.
It will be held on the West Promenade (“The Canadian Trail”) from December 13th until 31st, closed December 24th and 25th for Christmas.
There will be music, displays and other activities. Information is a bit limited still, but I will be keeping an eye on the website to see what they will be having and if it’s worth it for our family to make the trip out there.
It’s all free, so if you are in the area for other events, it’s definitely worth taking a peek at.
(Don’t forget to also check out Flyover Canada Christmas Edition, at a cost, from December 5th – January 9th!)
North Pole, BC
The TRADEX in Abbotsford has a great indoor event for those chilly, wet winter days that we get.
There’s all sorts of fun activities there for all ages. The website lists Story Time with Mrs Claus, Santa’s Toy Workshop, bakery, puppet theatre, carnival type rides and various Christmas vendors.
It’s $12.50 per person, over the age of two. Their hours vary, so check out their website to see the hours listed here.
Local City Events
Many local cities will have various events – Festivals, parades, tree lightings, music and activities. A bit of googling will help you find out what is happening in your area.
There are so many exciting things happening in the lower mainland to celebrate Christmas and get in the holiday spirit with!
Do you have any favorites that you and your family attend every year?